November 4, 2023
From Socialist Worker (UK)

A crowd shot of the Manchester train station occupation for Palestine

The occupation for Palestine at Manchester Piccadilly station

Thousands of pro-Palestine protesters across Britain wanted to do more than just march on the national day of action on Saturday. In Manchester a massive 15,000 took to the streets. A group of several hundred then headed to the city’s main station, Piccadilly, and occupied the concourse.  

“It was fantastic and inspiring,” Adam Rose told Socialist Worker. “And it was so important after the week of horror from Palestine. A small group of people left the march early to secure the station. 

“Then much bigger groups of us left the march too and got the numbers up to about 300 people. The march organisers at the rally then told everyone to get down here, so by the end we had almost 1,000 people protesting in the station.  

“Everyone was sitting down and chanting, and upstairs, in the gallery restaurants, there was an LGBT+ for Palestine banner—and a huge one against the genocide.” 

Adam says the militancy of the protest reflects that protesters are feeling ever more confident.  “We’ve already had three really big marches in Manchester, but today there were still people coming for the first time,” he said. 

In Glasgow, protesters occupied the city’s Central Station before the main march started. The concourse was blocked by hundreds of chanting protesters. By the time they left to join a feeder march to the main demonstration their numbers had swelled to around 3,000.  

Edinburgh had its biggest protest yet with some 4,000 people joining. The mood of militancy took them too as they occupied the main Waverley station.  

In Dundee, where last week police officers arrested a march participant, some 750 people responded this week with fury at the cops.

They defied the clampdown and ragged against the British government and the Labour “opposition”. And crucially, this week they again marched around the town—in their biggest numbers yet.

Some 2,000 marched in Nottingham and then moved to occupy the railway station. While hundreds got in and blocked it, hundreds more were outside trying to join them. 

One marcher said it was “the liveliest demo I have been on in a very long time” and added it was “inspiring to see all the young women leading the chants”. “And great to see the green and black smoke pyrotechnics which adds to the spectacle,” they said. 

Hundreds of protesters in Leeds also occupied their station. Linda told Socialist Worker that the protest was planned on WhatsApp and then spread rapidly. “There were loads of young people there, especially young Muslim people—and it was really lively. 

“The handful of police officers had no idea what to do about it, so they basically left us alone. And numbers grew as the afternoon went on. The main march in town was the biggest yet, so a lot of people came from there too. 

“In the end we all left together and had a procession out of the station—and we looked really impressive. Lots of passers-by were filming us.” 

Elsewhere the day was one of good-sized marches, with thousands on the streets of Liverpool, Sheffield and Cardiff. In Cambridge around 1,200 came on the streets, the biggest in the city in recent weeks. 

Despite reluctance from the local Labour Party to get involved, many trade unionists were on the demo. Protester Tom told Socialist Worker, “There weren’t as many as there should’ve been, but more than there has been. 

“Trade unionists from the UCU, NEU and Unite were there—and many had clearly won arguments about Palestine in their unions. A lot of young people on the march really wanted to talk politics.” 

A massive 2,000 people marched in Exeter and 1,500 marched in Rotherham, while hundreds were on the streets down the road in Chesterfield. Several hundred marched in Dorchester, Portsmouth and Plymouth on the south coast and in Lancaster and Halifax in the north west of England.